JULY 28, 2022
3 min Read
Investor Updates: July 28, 2022
South Africa’s Qwili raises $1.2m seed for its NFC-enabled smartphone
- Cape Town-based hybrid hardware-software startup Qwili has raised $1.2 million in an oversubscribed seed funding round to help it launch its low-cost smartphone embedded with near-field communication (NFC).
- Qwili’s software turns users’ phones into point-of-sale devices, enabling them to sell value-added services such as data, electricity, pay-TV subscriptions, groceries, clothing, and more to communities.
- The funding round was led by E4E Africa and involved Strat-Tech, Next Chymia, and Untapped Global alongside other funds and angel investors. It will be used for app development, new hires, and hardware production.
Qwili’s business model presents an interesting blend of software and hardware to take digital services to the very last mile in Africa’s rural communities. And, according to company figures, the startup currently processes $75,000 monthly GMV from 500 merchants while its platform saw strong turnover growth of over 300% from Q1 to Q2 of 2022. It plans to get those numbers up to $1 million from 3,000 merchants by the end of the year after it expands into neighboring Botswana.
Nigerian Startup Bill nears law after lawmakers’ approval
- The lower chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly, the House of Representatives has passed the Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) following the passage of the same bill by the Senate last week.
- The bill is aimed at deepening Nigeria’s technology ecosystem and involves efforts from the Presidency and leaders of the country’s technology industry. It was approved by the Federal Executive Council in December.
- Already a continental leader, the bill, if passed, would solidify the position of Nigeria’s startup ecosystem as the foremost one in Africa.
Innovation and venture funding in Africa’s technology space have grown rapidly over the past few years. Much of that growth has been without direct government involvement, however, state actors in Africa’s leading tech hubs are now moving to create regulations guiding the space. Tunisia and Senegal were the first two African countries to enact startup laws while in addition to Nigeria, several countries, including Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Kenya, are at varying stages of enactment. The benefits of having the government on board with tech stakeholders can’t be overstated, chief among which is the confidence it gives to venture backers to invest in African startups, especially foreign ones.
Paratus opens first carrier-neutral data center for Namibia
- Paratus, a telecommunications company, is set to open a new data center, Armada, next month in Windhoek, Namibia.
- For the first time, colocation clients will have the freedom of choice as well as access to infrastructure hosting services. Any client hosting within the facility will be able to choose which telecommunications provider they wish to purchase services from.
- The new facility will enable businesses to host their ICT infrastructure, providing access to a Tier III equivalent data center.
The rising demand for faster computing from African giant corporations is attracting investment into the African data center market. Microsoft, Amazon, and Huawei have all launched data centers in Africa. Recently, US-based Equinix Inc. acquired MainOne, a West Africa-focused connectivity company, for $320 million. The market for data centers in Africa is expected to reach between $3 billion and $5 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of between 12 and 15%. Paratus has two facilities in Angola and another in Zambia. With Armada, it’s tapping into the demand boom for data centers on the continent.